Showing posts with label Find A Grave. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Find A Grave. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How to Volunteer at Find A Grave

What is Find A Grave? is a free online database of cemeteries throughout the world. Over 80 million online memorials have been preserved on this site from volunteers.  These memorials may contain birth and death dates, pictures, biographies and more specific information. Just today, there were  11,625,957 visitors on this site. Take a look, your relatives could be here!

What volunteers do?
  • Add and manage online memorials of family, friends or anyone.
  • Photograph headstones at your local cemetery for people in other states.
  • Submit a photo request for someone else to photograph your ancestors headstones in another state. 
Why should I become a Find A Grave volunteer?  As a Find a Grave volunteer, you choose what you want to do, and how often. Becoming a volunteer does NOT mean you are obligated to do anything. It simply means, you can help out when you can. I became a volunteer at Find A Grave , for the opportunity to preserve my ancestors headstones, and manage their information myself. When I traveled to Indiana to do family research, I spent most of my days in Norristown, Cemetery where most of my ancestors are buried. I noticed that Norristown Cemetery had very few names entered on Find A Grave. So, before it was too late, I photographed and transcribed hundreds of headstones in that cemetery. Honestly, I kinda felt like Indiana Jones as I pieced together broken headstones like a jigsaw puzzle to reveal their identity. There were even headstones that had fallen over, and were buried by grass with the inscription unreadable, but with a little effort, they were saved. Knowing that I helped give an identity to those buried in this cemetery is beyond words. In just a few days work, the unknown became KNOWN and preserved!
Image above: Headstones of my great, great, great grandparents; George Washington Burnes & Sarah Walker Burnes (the 2 on the left), buried in Norristown Cemetery.

For me, and the thousands of Find A Grave volunteers, the rewards are greater than expected. It's a great act of service. It's about doing the right thing for those who lived a much harder life than we have. It's a small way to pay it back as we preserve and remember our forefathers.
Here's an example of what an online memorial looks like: Click image to enlarge

How do I become a volunteer?
  • Go to Below is  an image of what the landing page will look like: (It's not the most glamorous website, but the content of this website is amazing!)
  • On the right, under the " FIND GRAVES " section, the 6th bullet point down, click on the link that says " JOIN THE FIND A GRAVE COMMUNITY ". The new page will look like this:
  • Type in your information. Then, on the bottom, you will see a check box for becoming a photo volunteer. Check the box if you would like to become a photo volunteer for others, or keep it unchecked, if you no not want to do this. (I checked the box when I signed up, and I don't have to photograph unless I want to). Finally, Click on " SEND MY INFORMATION ".  
That's it!! You're now part of the Find A Grave Community! If you have any questions, please contact me at

Click here to view Sarah Burnes Heiner's Public Find A Grave Profile >>

Monday, May 28, 2012

Transcribing Headstones on Memorial Day

The highlight of Memorial Day was taking the family to the American Fork Cemetery to teach them how to transcribe and preserve headstones. I have always found this exciting, but for the vast population and the majority of my family, they were not too excited about this. However, I am strong willed and I encouraged everyone (with a bribe to go swimming after), whatever works; right? So with the iPad as my main instruction tool, I taught my 2 oldest kids how to navigate through Find A Grave to search and add more names to this database that already contained over 80 million online memorials. As I was on teaching duty, my husband tried to keep the 3 younger ones under control as they ran rampant through the Cemetery trying to steal the "free balloons" and flowers everywhere. In just a few minutes my oldest son had figured out how to use Find A Grave to search the database for the name ANDREA CINDY KETTLE  from the headstone he picked out. The search results came back stating; " Sorry, there are no records in the Find A Grave database matching your query",  which meant the name was not on find a grave and he could log the name and preserve it right there. Within  5 minutes he had logged the name and dates along with a photograph and he was done. 
My oldest daughter found a headstone, but found that it was already logged into find a grave, so she found another headstone with the name ELSIE NICOLE SIMPSON  (who was a full term stillborn of our friends). As she searched the database for Elsie, she found she was not there, so she logged her in, photographed her headstone and she was done within 5 minutes. I happened to notice Elsie's Great Grandparents; Gerald B. Sewell & Wilma F. Sewell, to the left of her so I hurried and logged and photographed them as well.
From start to finish all of this only took 15 minutes, which was a perfect amount of time; I thought. It left them excited and wanting to do more. As I have gotten older, I have learned to simplify things while working smarter and faster. I felt this small amount of time set the stage for something big with my children in the future.
Keep in short. Keep in simple. Keep it going!!   -Sarah
American Fork Cemetery Located in American Fork, Utah, Utah, USA 
 Memorial Day - 5-28-2012